Stephen Muecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perhaps it is the security that modern urban societies have developed for their intellectuals that has given rise to their habits of detachment: critically distanced analysis, ironic commentary, skepticism that can veer quickly to cynicism. Our houses are more storm-proof than birds’ nests; we don’t have to choose between eating and keeping up with the herd; and if a visiting anthropologist were to ask what we really care about, what we are most attached to, we would have to pause and think. It turns out we are deeply attached to all sorts of things, we just like to cultivate detachment from them. “The common root” for such positions, says Graham Harman, “lies in the modern supposition that subject and object are two alien things, and that the best course of action lies in disentangling one from the other as cleanly as possible.”1 The environmental humanities harbors a foundational critique of such dualism, for instance with Val Plumwood in the early nineties.2
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)167-170
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • modern urban societies
  • sophisticated detachment
  • affective relations


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